Lisa Goodman will not be getting ripped off when it comes to ice cream.
Goodman, who in 2017 will enter her 20th year of service on the Minneapolis City Council, made as much clear during a meeting last Wednesday. The hearing was a chance for council members to learn more about an economic study (one they'd paid for, to the tune of $150,000) assessing the impact of raising the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Goodman didn't seem all that interested in discussing the study results, upon which she immediately cast her doubts. She also weighed in briefly and incredulously on the price of ice cream.
Before dessert, Goodman was in the mood for an entree: Filleted and grilled economists.
She started by asking authors of the study -- a collaboration between researchers under the umbrella of the University of Minnesota's Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Social Justice -- about their prior history of publishing.
"If I were to Google all your names," Goodman began, "would I find articles written, papers written, opining in favor of raising the minimum wage?"
Subsequent questioning found that yes, two members had written in favor of raising the wage. Goodman took this as evidence that the team "come[s] to it with an opinion, a point of view, that you use the research to support."
Goodman, who represents some of the wealthier neighborhoods in Minneapolis (Kenwood, North Loop, Loring Park, and Lake of the Isles among them) was unimpressed. She suggested the researchers had been far too ready to accept a sunny view of raising the minimum wage from the current state level of $9.50 to a citywide base of $15.
In short, the study says a higher minimum would have little negative effect on businesses, and a hugely positive effect for their employees. About 71,000 people would see significant wage increases, the report estimates, roughly half of them nonwhite, the Star Tribune reports.
Goodman was largely concerned about the damage that could be done to restaurants. The study estimated the food service industry might shed as many as 3.3 percent of its current jobs, a number the researchers suggested would be mostly offset by a 28 percent gain in purchasing power for the people who work those jobs. Food costs are projected to rise about 5 percent.
Goodman's not so convinced. Consider the cone.
"When you already are paying $6 for a single scoop ice cream cone, how much more are people going to be willing to pay? There is a breaking point at which people who even make $15 an hour -- I wouldn't consider $6 for an ice cream cone."
Great news, Council Member Goodman: You don't have to! Expensive ice cream is an elective luxury, and not the kind of thing economists talk about with terms like "food insecurity." Can't afford a $6 cone? Don't get one.
The comment was probably a reference to places like (the excellent) Sebastian Joe's, a top-shelf local ice cream chain that operates one shop in Goodman's neighborhood.
On hot summer days, it's out-the-doors, down-the-block packed with families and couples, many of whom wander over from Lowry Hill, Kenwood, or the neighboring Wedge area. Not exactly the places one lives while scraping by on minimum wage.
Then Goodman's math gets weirder:
"I can't imagine low-wage workers saying now they'll pay $7.50 to accommodate a 5 percent increase in [food prices]."
Neither can we. A 5 percent increase on a $6 ice cream cone doesn't make it $7.50. It makes it $6.30.
"And that's what they would have to do."
Would they have to? Couldn't they just not eat expensive ice cream?
The next thing the Minneapolis City Council should have studied is the drastic effect of this mandatory fancy ice cream amendment Lisa Goodman is pushing.
Watch a clip of Goodman's skepticism below.
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- Minneapolis City Council votes to kill the $15 minimum wage referendum
- Supreme Court kills minimum wage, police liability insurance ballot questions
- Charles Thornton worries for the future of minimum wage. He lives its present.
- Minneapolis officials exploring raising minimum wage in city, à la Seattle
- Hell's Kitchen applauds minimum wage increase
- Blue Plate responds to minimum wage increase by dipping into servers' tips